This edition of Book Bits was originally published in the December 15, 2017, edition of the Milton Independent.

As holiday shoppers consider books for gifts, and the approach of the New Year brings “best of” lists, I thought it would be fun to invite Milton Public Library staff and library board members to share their favorite reads of 2017.

Our criteria was any genre for any age, not necessarily published this year.  Here’s our list, starting with mine:

“Following Atticus” by Tom Ryan
“Following Atticus” is Ryan’s story about hiking New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-foot peaks with his miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch. More than mountain quests, it’s the story of transformation that comes from seeing the world in a new way.  It’s a book I’ve thought about all year.

“The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue
This is a wonderful story, that I could not put down. You can relate to the characters and feel what they feel.  There’s an awesome twist at the end that I loved. – Tracey Noel, library assistant

Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Protagonist Miss Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator whose investigations take her on dangerous and intriguing escapades. The story  lines mainly take place in London between the World War I and World War II eras.  These books are great for pleasure reading, with a brush of historical fiction.  There is often an interesting plot twist. – Michelle Desranleau, library aide

“The Genius” by Jesse Kellerman
“The Genius” is a book I recently discovered. A longtime a fan of his father, Jonathan Kellerman, I was pleasantly surprised to find that his son Jesse is also a writer.  This book is a thriller that starts with the discovery of boxes and boxes of art by a missing madman.  The drawings are on sheets of paper that all interconnect, making one single vision.  The person who discovers the artwork delves deeper into the mystery, but finds that he is soon the target of a campaign to force him to stop his quest. It’s a fast read with lots of excitement, and thoroughly enjoyable. – MPL board secretary Lisa Barron

“Counting by 7’s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
If you and your family loved “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, you’ll love this book! I read it for my book group, and it was such a delightful surprise for adults and middle schoolers, as well.  The story is about Willow Chance, a 12-year-old genius coping with loss, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. – MPL board president Jen Dooley

“Glass Houses” by  Louise Penny &  “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill
Well I couldn’t pick just one, big surprise! I read “Glass Houses” by Louise Penny. One of my favorite authors, she never disappoints. I love a mystery that I can’t guess the ending, and Louise Penny always comes through. Barnhill’s book  is the 2017 Newbery Medal winner (the literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children), and deservedly so.  It’s a well-written fantasy with a lot of heart. – Kathy Dulac, assistant library director & youth services librarian

“The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery
This novel is beautifully written. The philosophy aspects kept me thinking about it way after I finished reading. – Meagan Oliver, library aide

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
I finally read this for the first time! There are so many themes and messages. I think it will mean something different for everyone. It’s a great adventure novel. – Meagan Oliver, library aide      

“Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion
I picked this up because I liked the movie, and I’m not sure why I was surprised to find the book was so much better. Yes, it’s a zombie romance novel, but the overarching message is quite uplifting. I laughed out loud and found myself actively cheering for the main characters. – Meagan Oliver, library aide

“Clever Jack Takes the Cake” by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
I tell kids it’s got all the good stuff: a boy, a princess, a troll, a castle and a birthday party. I’ve read it as a cliff hanger to preschoolers, just up to the “worst” scary part, and teacher reads the rest in classroom.  It keeps them asking for the story’s continuation. – Leslie Bashaw, library aide & bookmobile driver

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
The characters made me laugh and cry. Ove’s personality reminded me of more than one person I know and love. I still wish I wasn’t finished reading it so I could check in each night before I go to bed to see what has happened to all the families. – MPL board treasurer Veronica Valz

All of us, staff and board members of Milton Public Library, wish you and yours a happy holiday season, and all good things in the New Year.

Susan Larson, Milton Public Library Director